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Fundraiser established for Covington murder victim’s three children
Desiree Cash
This is a photo of Desiree Cash organizers included on a GoFundMe fund-raising web page to raise money for funeral expenses and to assist the victim's three children. (Special Photo)

COVINGTON, Ga. — The family of a woman shot and killed during a custody exchange Sunday, Sept. 11, in west Newton has set up a fundraising site for funeral expenses and the victim’s children.

The woman, identified as Desiree Cash, 33, and her boyfriend Craig Joshua Thomas, 29, were shot and killed as they sat in their vehicle at a residence on Pebble Lane in the Pebble Brooke subdivision in west Newton County, deputies reported.

The suspect, identified as Marquez Smith, 34, turned himself in to the sheriff’s office after initially being on the run following the incident, said spokesman Sgt. Jack Redlinger of the Newton County Sheriff’s Office.

A person who set up the GoFundMe account identified herself as Cash’s mother, Brenda Guerra, and listed a goal of $50,000 to pay for funeral expenses and assist the victim’s three minor children.

“I won't get into too many details here, but if you know our situation, you understand the importance of this funding,” Guerra wrote. 

“I hope to raise money to help support my daughter's three minor children, my grandbabies, who were left with no mother after a tragic, senseless incident that took her life on Sunday, September 11, 2022. 

“We cannot get any of their belongings from their home due to the pending investigation & any help would be greatly appreciated. Funds will also be used for funeral expenses for Desiree as well as legal expenses for the best interest of my grandchildren.”

According to Redlinger, deputies on Sept. 11 at 6:15 p.m. responded to the location of the shooting at 60 Pebble Lane. 

The two victims reportedly were dropping off Cash’s 15-year-old daughter but the girl had refused to go — saying she did not want to stay with her father. 

After the 15-year-old refused to leave the vehicle, the suspect allegedly walked back into the house, retrieved a handgun, came back outside to the vehicle and shot both the Cash and Thomas, Redlinger said.

The two victims then attempted to drive away in the car but ultimately hit a mailbox — where deputies say they found them, the spokesman said.

Thomas was the driver and was pronounced dead at the scene. Cash died in the ambulance while being taken to the hospital, Redlinger said.

After the shooting, Smith left the scene driving a silver 2008 Ford F-250 pickup truck. Around midnight, he made contact with Sheriff Ezell Brown and made arrangements to turn himself in, Redlinger said.

He was charged with two counts of Murder, Aggravated Assault and Cruelty to Children and one count of Possession of a Firearm, according to sheriff’s office records. 

He was being held without bond in the Newton County Detention Center. A first appearance hearing for Smith was held Wednesday in Magistrate Court.

Smith has a lengthy arrest history dating to 2005, jail records show.

The fundraiser can be accessed at